Reed Smith Client Alerts

Back in November 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division established the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) to investigate collusion and anti-competitive conduct involving government procurement, grant, and program funding. Now, nearly two years later, the presence of the PCSF and other international organizations fighting anti-competitive conduct is being felt globally in very significant ways. Businesses and individuals providing goods and services through the U.S. government’s procurement process should take notice.

The PCSF consists of prosecutors from DOJ and 13 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with investigators from the FBI, the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of the Inspector General and other federal inspectors general. The strike force leads a coordinated national response to combat antitrust crimes and related schemes in procurement, grants, and program funding at all levels of government.

On June 25, 2021, the PCSF announced its first international resolution, which involved a Belgian security firm, G4S Secure Solutions NV (G4S). G4S has pled guilty for its role in a conspiracy to rig bids, allocate customers and fix prices for defense-related security services, including services associated with a multimillion-dollar DOD contract awarded to G4S for military bases and installations in Belgium.

According to the charging documents, G4S conspired with co-conspirators to allocate security services contracts in Belgium among themselves and to determine the prices at which contracts would be bid from spring 2019 through summer 2020. In addition to the DOD contract, the contracts allegedly affected by the conspiracy included contracts for NATO’s Communications and Information Agency, funded in part by the United States. G4S has agreed to pay a criminal fine of $15 million and to cooperate in the ongoing investigation. Indicative of the fact that this type of conduct is being aggressively fought globally, the Belgian Competition Authority is also investigating allegations of bid rigging between Belgian private security firms in tendering procedures for the provision of security services to the Belgian Ministry of Defence and NATO, as well as to private customers.

The PCSF conducts investigations that span over a broad range of procurement collusion and fraud matters. From defense and national security contracts to public works and projects where contractors are primarily delivering supplies to the federal government, the PCSF is on the lookout for wrongdoing. As is evidenced by the G4S matter, the PCSF focuses not only on investigating conduct within the United States. It also conducts international investigations into conduct affecting U.S. government procurement that occurs worldwide. According to its website, the PCSF has sponsored multiple trainings on recognizing antitrust crimes to over 10,000 agents, investigators, analysts, auditors, attorneys, and procurement officers since its inception. Incredibly, it has opened just under 40 investigations as of the date of this alert.